Champion Roman Hrabec!

This week at the Triton Super High Roller Series in Jeju had already been hugely profitable for the young Czech player Roman Hrabec. He had played seven tournaments, cashed in five of them, and had been playing the series of his life.

But today, Hrabec took the next huge step towards Triton greatness, riding the momentum to snag the $100K Main Event title against the biggest field ever assembled for a tournament of this buy-in. It came with a first prize of $4.33 million, plus an exclusive Jacob & Co timepiece that finds only a select few wrists.

Hrabec had clearly been playing superbly this trip, and today he was perfectly placed to make the absolute most from a great run of cards as well. Hrabec was relentless, and managed to consistently show up with the good when his opponents played back.

He needed it. His final opponent, from a record-breaking field of 216 entries, was the incorrigible Jean Noel Thorel, a player who knows a thing or two about relentless aggression. But for the second time, Thorel had to make do with second place in a Triton Main Event, with a $2.875 million consolation prize this time.

Hrabec claimed in his winner’s interview that he hadn’t paid any attention to the money. “I just play my game,” he said. But he added, “I will say, it feels quite amazing,” before checking, “Is that real money? Yeah, that feels pretty good.”

Roman Hrabec and Monica Zukowicz model their orange hats as new champions

Hrabec, who is 28 and now lives in Vienna, Austria, picked up poker in the dressing room of the professional ice hockey stadiums as he pursued life as an athlete. His hockey career stalled because of injury, but his poker took off.

He made his name as an online MTT beast, known as “gogac_sniper”. And the assassin duly blasted through this tournament to really help him emerge into the big leagues. Hrabec said he visited the temples of South Korea with his friends and girlfriend, fellow pro Monica Zukowicz, and prayed for some run good in the main event.

He also sported a bright orange hat and brought a local Jeju hallabong orange with him to the table, hoping his respect for the local culture brought him luck.

“I guess it worked out,” Hrabec said.

Make no mistake, this is a statement win in an enormous tournament. Hrabec, who will rise to second on the Czech money list with this victory, is clearly here to stay on the Triton Series.

Roman Hrabec celebrates as Jean Noel Thorel departs


For some very obvious reasons, all the talk in the room at the beginning of this three-day tournament was about just how big it could possibly get. With records being broken left and right here in Jeju, a new mark for the biggest $100K buy-in event was a genuine possibility — not just for the Triton Series, but for world poker as a whole.

With players continuing to sit down, and registration open throughout the whole of the first day, the field soon eclipsed Triton’s own record, set in London last summer. And by the time tournament organisers finally drew the shutters down on the reg desk, they had printed 216 tournament tickets — officially the biggest ever.

Yep, it’s worth underlining this: this week Triton set a new best for Super High Roller poker tournaments with 216 entries at the $100K price point. Who on earth would have thought that possible just a few years ago?


As soon as registration had closed, the focus of course shifted to the money places. Thirty nine spots were due to be paid, with a min-cash worth $151,000. As the field contracted, it grew tense.

There were close battles right across the field as the player numbers ticked down. With only a couple of eliminations to go until the money, David Coleman tried to push out Webster Lim with a shove from the small blind. Lim, however, found AcQc and although it was a decision worth burning through a few time banks, he made the call.

Lim’s hand stayed good against Coleman’s 8s9h and it left the American in peril.

David Coleman’s bubble bullying backfired

Over on another table, Stephen Chidwick and Chris Brewer got their middling stacks in the middle pre-flop, but chopped it up after both showing ace-king. Santhosh Suvarna was not fortunate enough to even secure a chop. He had a decent stack until back-to-back losses against Andrew Pantling and then Elton Tsang.

Suvarna’s nosedive was completed by Pantling, who took the last blind with Ad9h to Suvarna’s 7d4c. Paulius Plausinaitis was now the micro-stack on that table, with only two big blinds, but he would have known that Coleman was also in for his final blind elsewhere in the room.

Santhosh Suvarna endured a rough bubble spell

Coleman, similarly, couldn’t find something miraculous when he was forced all-in. He had only 2c6s against Alex Theologis’ AsTc and an ace on the flop made it very hard for Coleman.

He picked up a straight draw but missed it, and instead hit the rail in an agonising 40th spot. Everyone else was now the right side of the cruel line.


As ever, the tournament was weighted heavily to the top spots and the target now was the final table. Actually, the first aim was to get through to the end of Day 2, which was scheduled to finish when 16 players were left.

This was a task beyond such Triton luminaries as Henrik Hecklen, Tim Adams, Mike Watson, and Webster Lim. Jean Noel Thorel was thrilling viewers on the TV stage, playing his customary all-action game. Seth Davies and Andrew Pantling were among those who simply couldn’t cope with JNT, as the Frenchman opened a near two-to-one lead over his nearest competition.

When Theologis and Shyngis Satubayev went out in quick succession, the bags came out for the night.

Jean-Noel Thorel was in awesome form in the Main Event

Fifteen players returned for Day 3, all looking up to Thorel, but quickly Mario Mosboeck, Ramin Hajiyev and Wiktor Malinowski hit the rail. It then took a big pot, and a big outdraw, to bust Chidwick in 10th and bring the rest of the players round a final table of nine.

Chidwick had never had a huge stack, but had been holding firm with the final in sight. And just when he thought he might finally get the chips to do some damage, with AsQs against Hrabec’s Ah4h, he had to watch the dealer put three hearts out there to sent Hrabec to the top and Chidwick out.

Tenth place for Stephen Chadwick

Hrabec’s tear had edged him over Thorel, but there was still a lot of play to go. The final nine lined up as follows:

Roman Hrabec – 14,325,000 (72 BBs)
Jean Noel Thorel – 13,375,000 (67 BBs)
Alex Kulev – 5,825,000 (29 BBs)
Fahredin Mustafov – 4,600,000 (23 BBs)
Chris Brewer – 4,200,000 (21 BBs)
Elton Tsang – 4,150,000 (21 BBs)
Matthias Eibinger – 3,800,000 (19 BBs)
Igor Yaroshevskiy – 2,125,000 (11 BBs)
Patrik Antonius – 1,600,000 (8 BBs)

Triton Jeju Main Event final table (clockwise from back left): Patrik Antonius, Chris Brewer, Elton Tsang, Roman Hrabec, Alex Kulev, Matthias Eibinger, Jean Noel Thorel, Fahredin Mustafov, Igor Yaroshevskiy.


There was something very familiar about the line-up, not least the presence of two Bulgarians there. This has been another fine showing during a brilliant couple of weeks for players from the eastern European country, and their flag again found itself draped over the bleechers.

However, Alex Kulev — who had been leading this tournament in its early stages — was the first man out of the final. He lost a classic race. He found pocket queens and got involved in a pre-flop raising battle with Hrabec, sitting with AcKh.

All the chips eventually went in, and Hrabec found an ace on the flop. Kulev was at his third final of the trip, which included a sixth-place finish in the $150K buy-in event. And he added $451,000 to his ledger for ninth.

Alex Kulev was at another final, but out in ninth

Hrabec was on fire and he then found pocket queens to account for Chris Brewer. After Hrabeck opened his button, Brewer ripped in his 10 big blinds from the big blind seat and Hrabec made the call.

Brewer had one over-card with his KhJc, but it was not enough. Although he hit a king on the turn, Hrabec flopped a set and stayed best. Brewer, a two time Triton champion, was out in eighth this time for $543,000.

The end of the line for Chris Brewer

Ukraine’s Igor Yaroshevskiy has a strong reputation at the tournament tables of Europe, but his best results on the Triton Series have previously come in $25K and $50K turbo events, i.e., at the lower end of the Triton buy-in scale.

But this event, with its $100K buy-in, also seemed to feel comfortable for Yaroshevskiy and he sailed into the deep stages. But he couldn’t seem to get anything going at this final, steadily slipping down the counts. He then doubled up Elton Tsang when both players had short stacks — AhQh > Ad6s — and Fahredin Mustafov was there to snatch the last crumbs.

Yaroshevskiy’s $739,000 is a new best for him.

Igor Yaroshevskyy landed his biggest score to date

Although Mustafov officially eliminated Yaroshevskiy, it wasn’t a huge pot and Mustafov himself was on the short side. He had previously lost a big flip to Patrik Antonius and was scrapping to keep himself afloat.

Mustafov’s position was such that he needed to raise/call all-in for big blinds with Kd9d and hope to get it to beat Matthias Eibinger’s AsKs. That, however, was not to be.

A king rivered, but Eibinger’s hand was still bigger. Mustafov landed his first seven-figure payday — $1,008,000 to be precise — but his Main Event was over in sixth.

The Bulgarian challenge ends with Fahredin Mustafov

Hrabec’s non-stop aggression had the desired result of getting his opponents to pay him off when he managed to find a hand. The next time it happened, it accounted for Eibinger.

Eibinger was proudly wearing his Main Event winner’s timepiece, given to him by tournament sponsors Jacob & Co after his win in the equivalent tournament in Monte Carlo last year. But Eibinger’s timing was off when he three-bet shoved pocket threes and ran them into Hrabec’s pocket tens.

Hrabec flopped another ten and rivered a fourth. Quads. That was the end of Eibinger, who took $1,330,000 for fifth.

Matthias Eibinger gets a goodbye handshake from Jean Noel Thorel

Hrabec’s sun run continued, and this time it made toast of Antonius. Hrabec picked up pocket jacks and went to battle pre-flop with Antonius. But while the Finnish great had a shorter stack, he had a bigger pocket pair, queens, and was only too happy to get it all in.

Even that didn’t stop Hrabec, however. A jack appeared on the flop, sending Hrabec into the lead in this pot, and even further ahead in the overall standings. Antonius, meanwhile, landed $1,697,000 for his fourth place.

Patrik Antonius checks his payout on the way out

By his tempestuous standards, Thorel had been comparatively quiet at this final, allowing Hrabec to do all the damage. But with the equally thrilling Elton Tsang at in the final three as well, we had all the ingredients for more fireworks.

So it proved fairly quickly. Thorel picked up AsQc to Tsang’s AdTs and the two smaller stacks got them in pre-flop. There was nothing for Tsang to celebrate through a dry board, and he headed over to his rail.

Tsang won his first title just a couple of days ago and said he had his eyes now fixed on a second. It was a pretty solid effort, running all the way to third and a $2.105 payday.

Elton Tsang couldn’t quite land the back-to-back victory

Hrabec had a big chip lead heads up, and there was certainly no certainty that this one would end quickly. With an average of more than 60 big blinds, most Triton Series heads-up battles could play long, long into the night.

However, that’s not accounting for Thorel, who has never seen a flop he didn’t like. Hrabec likely figured that if he could find a big hand and lay a trap, Thorel could be coaxed into it. And so it proved.

Hrabec picked up pocket kings and saw Thorel open pre-flop. Hrabec three-bet, Thorel called and they saw the 9dJs3c flop. Hrabec bet, Thorel called.

Another brilliant Main Event performance from Jean-Noel Thorel

The Kh on the turn was obviously a huge card for Hrabec and he checked it over. Thorel took the bait and, with only Qc4c needed to bluff to win.

He shoved, Hrabec called, and when no 10 appeared, that was the end of that.

“I just play a little bit different style,” Hrabec said. “Some people say I’m a punter…Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.”

Paying tribute again to the local culture, his orange hat and the girlfriend who bought it for him, Hrabec said, “It has turned out to be a very lucky experience.”

The calm before the storm for Roman Hrabec

Event #11 – $100K – NLH Main Event
Dates: March 14-16, 2024
Entries: 216 (inc. 77 re-entries)
Prize pool: $21,600,000

1 – Roman Hrabec, Czech Republic – $4,330,000
2 – Jean Noel Thorel, France – $2,875,000
3 – Elton Tsang, Hong Kong – $2,105,000
4 – Patrik Antonius, Finland – $1,697,000
5 – Matthias Eibinger, Austria – $1,330,000
6 – Fahredin Mustafov, Bulgaria – $1,008,000
7 – Igor Yaroshevskiy, Ukraine – $739,000
8 – Chris Brewer, USA – $543,000
9 – Alex Kulev, Bulgaria – $451,000

10 – Stephen Chidwick, UK – $378,000
11 – Kevin Rabichow, USA – $378,000
12 – Justin Saliba, USA – $330,000
13 – Wiktor Malinowski, Poland – $330,000
14 – Ramin Hajiyev, Azerbaijan – $298,000
15 – Mario Mosboeck, Austria – $298,000
16 – Shyngis Satubayev, Kazakhstan – $266,000
17 – Alex Theologis, Greece – $266,000
18 – Mauricio Salazar, Colombia – $234,000
19 – Seth Davies, USA – $234,000
20 – Andrew Pantling, Canada – $234,000
21 – Sean Winter, USA – $212,000
22 – Webster Lim, Malaysia – $212,000
23 – Luc Greenwood, Canada – $212,000
24 – Joey Weissman, USA – $190,000
25 – Esti Wang, China – $190,000
26 – Leon Sturm, Germany – $190,000
27 – Paulius Vaitiekunas, Lithuania – $190,000
28 – Ken Tong, Hong Kong – $168,000
29 – Wai Leong Chan, Malaysia – $168,000
30 – Lewis Spencer, UK – $168,000
31 – Wang Yang, China – $168,000
32 – Konstantin Maslak, Russia – $151,000
33 – Mike Watson, Canada – $151,000
34 – Ren Lin, China – $151,000
35 – Tim Adams, Canada – $151,000
36 – Biao Ding, China – $151,000
37 – Oleg Ustinovich, Russia – $151,000
38 – Henrik Hecklen, Denmark – $151,000
39 – Paulius Plausinaitis, Lithuania – $151,000

Photography by Joe Giron/Poker Photo Archive